The Easter Vigil

“Every day we have the chance to resurrect [compassion].” ~Juli Stewart

Easter morning, I am sitting in my bed wondering, is resurrection possible? Merriam Webster’s online defines resurrection as 1) the rising of Christ from the dead, the rising again to life of all the human dead before the final judgement, the state of one risen from the dead; 2) resurgence, revival; and 3) Christian Science: a spiritualization of thought: material belief that yields to spiritual understanding.

What does it really mean to bring someone/something back to life?

***

The night before, Eric and I went to the Easter Vigil service at the Catholic church we sometimes attend. Sometimes because I have not been a good or regular attendee for a while now. You probably know the drill–I have trouble overriding what has become a dominant narrative in my head about the Catholic church–it’s a patriarchal institution dying a slow and painful death due to it’s refusal to accept responsibility for its sins and to fully love all people. And I’m embarrassed too, to claim such a corrupted faith as my own.

Nevertheless, we did Easter. The Easter Vigil service is long for those of you have never attended one. Saturday’s mass was no different. The cantor, a lovely young man with an even lovelier voice, drew out each note he uttered. The exsultet, a hymn sung at the beginning of the service last 13 minutes. That’s a long time when mass begins at 7:30 on a Saturday evening. It was, in fact, so long that Fr. M who has bad knees nearly went down. You see, the pastor stands at the front of the church holding the immense lit Easter candle during the entirety of the song. When Fr. M’s hold on the candle began to slip, C (the lector for the evening) leapt up from her seat in the front row and in what would perhaps be the moment that resurrected my heart, gently took the candle so Fr. M could unlock his knee.

C’s relationship with Fr. M is complicated as are most relationships between men and women in a church committed to inequality. Those complications did not, however, unwind the web of humanity connecting them.

Resurrection.

The service was long. But instead of bearing it, as I expected to, I was cracked open. The vulnerability and kindness played out in the opening moments of the service, a reminder of compassion’s potency. A reminder of love’s capacity for resurrection.

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